These caramel popcorn balls are made in the microwave in just 15 minutes! Covered in sweet, gooey caramel and perfectly chewy and crunchy.
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Salted Caramel Popcorn Balls
I’m obsessed with all things caramel and caramel candy! I love the rich, golden flavor and how decadent it tastes in desserts. These caramel popcorn balls are a favorite, as well as microwave caramel candies, caramel apple dip, homemade toffee and peanut brittle.
These caramel popcorn balls are adapted from my microwave caramel popcorn recipe and taste SO delicious! They’re covered in a sweet, gooey caramel sauce and are perfectly chewy and crunchy.
The best thing about them is that they are SO simple to make and will take only about 15 minutes from start to finish. You don’t even need to turn on the stove and pull out the candy thermometer. Easy peasy!
Kids of all ages (even adults) love popcorn balls. These would make the perfect treat for any fall or Halloween party! You could add extras like M&M’s, candy corn, chopped nuts, or sprinkles. So fun!
Reasons to Love Them
Trying this popcorn ball will be surprisingly delicious! It is not hard compared to other caramel balls or sticky ones that get stuck in your teeth. It is ooey gooey, soft, and sweet! They do make you happy and want can have you craving more!
- Made in the microwave. No stove or oven is required! Only the microwave is used.
- Ready in 15 minutes. Your popcorn balls will be ready in 15 minutes from start to finish.
- Kid and adult approved. This is a fun treat for ALL ages – everyone always loves them!
- Perfect for parties. Individual bite-sized treats are great for entertaining.
- Makes a great gift. Homemade gifts are always better in my opinion. Simply wrap in gift wrap, tie with a bow and add a gift tag!
A simple caramel made in the microwave is poured over popcorn to create the ultimate treat any time of year. Here are the simple ingredients to making this family favorite popcorn!
Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.
- Popcorn: I like to use Skinny Pop, but any type of popped popcorn will do. The salty nuttiness of popcorn pairs perfectly with a sweet caramel coating.
- Butter: I like to use unsalted butter when the popcorn is already salted. The butter helps create the creaminess of the caramel.
- Brown sugar: The richness of brown sugar adds so much depth to the caramel and gives it a beautiful color.
- Corn syrup: Not only does this add an extra layer of sweetness, but it also helps to stabilize the caramel.
- Vanilla: I love the flavor vanilla adds and how it balances the sweetness and saltiness of these popcorn balls.
- Baking soda: The reason we add baking soda to the caramel is not just for the fun foam that happens, but because it reacts with the brown sugar and corn syrup, creating tiny carbon dioxide air bubbles. This leads to a softer texture in caramel.
These popcorn balls taste delicious as-is but feel free to add in extras if desired. You could even drizzle the tops with melted chocolate or use food coloring to dye the popcorn balls fun colors. Such a fun way to make these treats a little more festive around the holidays!
- Chopped nuts
- Chocolate chips
- Mini marshmallows
- Candy corn
How to Make Popcorn Balls
To prepare, lay a piece of wax or parchment paper on the counter or on a baking sheet. Use a bag of pre-popped popcorn or make microwave or stovetop popcorn with fresh corn kernels. Place popped popcorn in a large bowl and set aside.
- Cook caramel in the microwave. Add butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup in a microwave-safe bowl Cook for one minute. Stir and cook for two additional minutes for chewy popcorn balls. If you like crunchy popcorn balls, cook an extra minute.
- Add in vanilla and baking soda. Remove the caramel mixture from the microwave and stir in vanilla and baking soda.
- Coat popcorn with caramel and form it into balls. Pour caramel over popcorn and stir until well coated. Allow cooling slightly. Grease hands with butter (or wax paper or gloves) and shape the popcorn into 2-inch balls.
TIP: To test if your caramel has reached a soft ball, grab a cup of ice water. Then dip a spoon in the caramel and then dip it into the ice water. It should form a soft ball (chewy caramel). If it’s still stringy, cook an additional minute.
You may have too much popcorn and not enough caramel. I always start with 10 cups of popcorn and add more if it seems there isn’t enough. You also want to be sure to really squeeze the balls together to make sure they are sticking.
This is the opposite issue of the one above. This typically happens when you have too much caramel and not enough popcorn. As I mentioned, I start with 10 cups of popcorn and add more if it looks like there is too much caramel sauce.
To keep them fresh, you can either wrap them individually with plastic wrap or store them in a zip-top bag or airtight container. They will keep at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
5 star review
“Excellent recipe! So very easy! And fun to make. May husband and I did it together to make large popcorn balls for the grand children for Christmas. We decided this should be a new Christmas tradition!”– Patricia
More Easy Popcorn Recipes
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Caramel Popcorn Balls
- 10-12 cups popped popcorn , I used Skinny Pop
- ½ cup unsalted butter , cut into pieces
- 1 cup light brown sugar , packed
- ¼ cup light corn syrup
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch salt
Optional mix-in's: Chopped nuts, M&M's, Candy corn, Sprinkles
- Lay a piece of wax or parchment paper on the counter or on a baking sheet. Place popped popcorn in a large bowl.
- In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup 1 minute. Stir and cook 2 additional minutes for chewy popcorn balls. If you like crunchy popcorn balls, cook 1 minute more. Stir in vanilla and baking soda.
- Pour caramel over popcorn and stir until well coated. Let cool slightly.
- Grease hands with butter (or use wax paper or gloves) and shape the popcorn into 2-inch balls. Wrap each ball with plastic wrap or store in a zip-top bag or an airtight container up to 2 weeks.
- For a fun twist, mix in M&M’s, candy corn, sprinkles, and/or nuts.
- Use food coloring to dye the popcorn balls a festive color for the holidays.
Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.
Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!
Made these with my kids and everyone loved them!
Made these for our kids’ church group for snack and they loved them! There were zero leftover because many wanted more than one lol. Will make these again!
Glad to hear the popcorn balls were a hit! :)
this is such a great and quick snack idea or even gift idea! thank you so much for sharing this amazing recipe!
This recipe is really amazing! Thanks a bunch for this very tasty popcorn balls recipe! Will surely have this again! Highly recommended!
You are so welcome, Allyssa. Glad you loved it. Thanks for the recommendation!
So easy and so delicious! My kids loved these!
Glad your kids like these, Molly. This can be a fun treat and the kids can get involved in making it! Thanks for sharing.
What a great quick and easy treat! The possibilities are endless with all the candy add ins and I can see us making these for lots of holiday parties with the kids.
Dana, this is definitely a versatile recipe. It is also a great way to get the kids involved! Thanks for sharing.
Just made these for the grandkids Halloween bags. They are so easy and taste fantastic! Thanks so much for popcorn balls that taste like the “old fashioned” ones that are so easy to make!
You are so welcome, Lisa! Happy to hear they were a big hit :)
What is the pinch of salt used for/when is it added? Thanks!
I like to add the pinch of salt to give it that sweet and salty flavor. Sprinkle it on top after coating the popcorn with the caramel sauce.
These are amazing and SO easy!! I tried to half the recipe since I’m the only one who will eat them and sauce came out crunchy. 2nd batch…made caramel as stated and halfed the popcorn. Mmmmmmm thank you for this easy recipe!!
I’m so glad you liked it!! Thanks for the comment and review, Tami!